Morphological characteristics of the kangaroo lumbar intervertebral discs and comparison with other animal models used in spine research

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Journal Article
European Spine Journal, 2020, 29 (4), pp. 652 - 662
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© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Purpose: Animal models are frequently used to elucidate pathomechanism and pathophysiology of various disorders of the human intervertebral disc (IVD) and also to develop therapeutic approaches. Here we report morphological characteristics of the kangaroo lumbar IVDs and compare them with other animal models used in spine research. Methods: Twenty-five fresh-frozen cadaveric lumbar spines (T12–S1) derived from kangaroo carcases (Macropus giganteus) of undetermined age were first scanned in a C-Arm X-ray machine. A photograph of the axial section of the disc including a calibrated metric scale was also acquired. The digital radiographs and photographs were processed in ImageJ to determine the axial and sagittal plane dimensions for the whole disc (WD) and the nucleus pulposus (NP) and the mid-sagittal disc height for all the lumbar levels. Results: Our results suggest that the L6–S1 IVD in kangaroos is distinctly large compared with the upper lumbar IVDs. Based on previously published data, human lumbar IVDs are the largest of all the animal IVDs used in spine research, with camelid cervical IVDs being the closest relative in absolute dimensions (llamas: 78% in disc height, 40% in WD volume, and 38% in NP volume). Kangaroo L6–S1 IVD was approximately 51% in height, 20% in WD volume, and 20% in NP volume of the human lumbar IVD. Conclusions: We conclude that morphological similarities exist between a kangaroo and human lumbar IVD, especially with the lima bean shape in the axial plane, wedge shape in the sagittal plane, convexity at the cephalad endplates, and percentage volume occupied by the NP in the IVD. Graphic abstract: These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]
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